The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (German: Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse) is a One of Fritz Lang's most wellknown works, and a classic piece of German expressionism. A sequel to the silent film 'Dr. Mabuse, der spieler', archcriminal Mabuse has now been driven way beyond sanity and has spent the last eleven years in an asylum.
Our dear doctor spent the first few years in a catatonic state, totally unreachable. Then one day something akin to progress was made. The patient started to scribble down what seemed like gibberish on the walls. The patient was given paper to write on, and since then Mabuse has been writing nonstop, line after line, paper after paper. Acknowledged doctor Baum has ever since taken a great deal of interest both in his patient and in this "work" of his. If one momentarily could just step inside Mabuse's sick and twisted mind, then a cure might be possible...
And then it happens. Baum manages to decipher the text, and realizes that what he has in his hand might very well be a political essay of the same importance and power as Machiavelli's 'The Prince'. Throw mankind in the deepest abyss of despair, Mabuse says, using any means possible. Through random acts of violence, through organized terrorism, whatever will lead mankind to the brink of destruction. And then claim power.
Soon after this discovery strange crimes are being committed, and rumors of an organized criminal movement mobilizing underground are spread. It does not take long until Berlin is a city in terror.
This is where commissioner Lohmann comes in, doing his best to trace down the roots of the terrorist groups. Strangely enough, the evidence seems to point towards - the asylum and Dr. Mabuse!
The first half of this film is classic horror - through a visit to the asylum and a lecture by Baum we learn of Mabuse's work. And when we, together with Lohmann, is introduced to Mabuse (locked up in his cell) and meet his maddened gaze...well, it's a truly CHILLING moment!
We also learn of how a young man with good intentions through poverty is forced to seek work in organized crime. While trying to leave the group he realizes there is only one way out: death. Another claustrophobic and suspenseful moment in the movie.
Somewhere in the latter half of the movie things get a little out of hand. When the mystery with Mabuse's influence on the outside world finally has been solved, some of the incredible dark atmosphere is lost. Instead we get more of a traditional crime/suspense-kind of film, and the high amount of plots makes the film drag on just a little too long.
The eery atmosphere in the earlier parts of the movie, the fantastic expressionist style and many original and innovative moments makes this a 'must-see' for those with an interest for early German Cinema, or those looking for the roots to genres as horror and film noir. While the early parts of this movie is a definite masterpiece, the latter half feels somewhat flawed though.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse
Otto Wernicke as Inspector Lohmann
Karl Meixner as Detective Hofmeister
Oscar Beregi Sr. as Professor Baum
Theodor Loos as Dr. Kramm
Gustav Diessl as Thomas Kent
Wera Liessem as Lilli
Rudolf Schündler as Hardy
Oskar Höcker as Bredow
Theo Lingen as Karetzki
Hadrian Maria Netto as Nicolai Griforiew
Camilla Spira as Juwelen-Anna
Georg John as Baum's servant